Federal Agency Gears Up Smart Card Initiative

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has awarded IT systems integrator BearingPoint a five-year contract worth up to $104.6 million to help U.S. agencies move to mandated smart card identity systems.

BearingPoint will provide smart card technology and services to federal agencies that work with the GSA to meet an Oct. 27 deadline to begin using smart cards as identification for employees and contractors, GSA officials said Friday. In August 2004, U.S. President George Bush signed Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 (HSPD-12) requiring federal agencies to move to e-authentication systems for workers and contractors. The October deadline was set in August 2005. Read more about this directive on CSOonline.com.

The contract award came just days after the GSA announced it has launched an office to help other agencies adopt smart card technology. The GSA, which coordinates purchases for other agencies, opened the smart card acquisitions office about a month ago, officials said. The office will help agencies launch "end-to-end" smart card systems, the GSA said.

This year, leaders of agencies have voiced concerns about meeting the deadline, but the GSA office is committed to helping agencies comply, said Michel Kareis, director of the HSPD-12 programs at GSA. GSA will initially provide four locations across the United States, including New York City and Washington, D.C., for government workers to sign up for smart cards.

"It is an incredibly aggressive time line, and we’re not going to have a lot of free time in the coming months," Kareis said of the looming deadline.

Federal agencies can find smart card ID systems on their own, but the GSA contract will allow agencies using a common technology platform to get the best prices, Kareis said. "Numerous" large agencies are considering working with the GSA on the smart card project, Kareis added.

With the new contract, BearingPoint will help agencies with all phases of implementing smart card ID systems, including enrolling workers in the smart card program and producing smart cards, GSA officials said.

By Grant Gross, IDG News Service (Washington Bureau)

For more information on smart cards, read United States of Access Control.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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